It Will Be OK: Why This Phrase Doesn't Work and 4 Things You Can Say Instead
It’s hard when someone we care about is going through a tough time and we want to say something to make them feel better. So we blurt out, "It will be ok!" And then we wait for the relief and gratitude to wash over their face. But more often than not, that's not what happens. Instead, they give us a blank stare or even start to cry. What gives? It turns out, there are a few reasons why this phrase doesn't always land the way we intend it to.
It Will Be OK Can Be Invalidating
When you're going through a tough time, hearing the phrase "it will be ok" can feel like a slap in the face. This phrase can be invalidating. They might be going through the worst day of their life and telling them that "it will be ok" can make them feel like you don't understand what they're going through. It completely discounts someone’s experience and minimizes their feelings. It can also come across as trite and impersonal, as if you're just parroting back something you've heard a million times before without really thinking about it.
What's more, this phrase often lacks empathy. It's easy to say "it will be ok" when you're not the one experiencing the pain. But when you are the one going through a tough time, those words can feel like an empty platitude. What you really need in that moment is for someone to see and validate your pain. You’re also placing your own interpretation on the situation. Maybe things really will work out for the best in the end. But maybe they won't. It's not your place to tell the other person how they should feel about their situation.
Four Things We Can Say Instead of “It Will Be OK”
So what can you say instead? A better approach is to acknowledge the person's feelings and let them know that you're there for them. This shows that you're present and aware of what they're going through, which can be a huge comfort when someone is feeling lost and alone. Here are four specific things you can say instead when you’re tempted to pull out “it will be ok”:
"I'm here for you." These four simple words convey empathy and support better than any other phrase out there. They let the person know that you see them, that you care about what they're going through, and that you're available to help in whatever way you can.
"Thank you for sharing that with me." This phrase shows that you're grateful for the person's trust—and that their feelings matter to you. It also opens up the door for further conversation, if they're feeling up to it.
"How can I help?" Asking this question shows that you're willing to put in the work to support your friend—and it takes the pressure off of them to come up with solutions on their own. Sometimes, just knowing that someone is in their corner is enough to make things feel a little bit better.
"I don't know what to say but I love you." Admitting that you don't have all the answers can actually be incredibly comforting—it shows that you're human too. Plus, reminding your friend (or loved one) that you care about them is always a good idea.
The next time someone close to you is going through a tough time, resist the urge to say "it will be ok." Instead, try one of these phrases—you might just find that they make all the difference.The next time you're tempted to say "it will be ok," take a pause and consider what else you could say instead. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way in showing someone that you care. Here at RAFT Counseling we partner with people every day to live intentional lives. Reach out if we can help. We would love to hear from you!